Who uses a small alcove tub space for bathing anymore? The answer – practically no one because it doesn’t fit our fast-paced lifestyles. Who loves framed sliding glass doors or shower curtains around their bathtubs….probably very few because they are a hassle to clean. If you’re like most you’d like to ditch your tub for a walk in shower and assumed you didn’t have enough room….well think again. In this article learn how a tub can be converted into a curved glass block shower in 5 simple steps.
• Step 1 – Measure your space and drain location – Measure the width and depth of the shower including the longer “back wall” and two “side walls” (note for the side walls measure not only where the tub ends but the entire distance from the back corner to the end of the stud wall). In most cases the back wall will measure 58-59” wide but it will actually become a 60” space once the old wall materials are removed. To have enough room for a curved glass block walk in shower to work it is best to have 32” of depth (i.e. the side wall measurements) once existing back wall materials are removed and the bare framing is revealed. Next identify the drain location by getting one measurement from the back wall to the center of the drain and another from the side wall where the shower head is positioned.
• Step 2 – Choose your shower pan – Glass block shower pans can be supplied with the curvature of the glass blocks already built into the pan which saves time trying to create a base at the job site and ensures a high quality finished product which won’t leak. These pans can be designed with different numbers of curved blocks depending on the amount of depth you measured in step one. The 3 most popular pan options and their advantages and disadvantages are:
o Acrylic – The advantage of acrylic is it’s easy to maintain, but the drawback is it is only available in one size (60” x 34”) with predetermined standard drain location (note the ability to have a custom drain location can save plumbing costs associated with moving the drain) in two colors (white and biscuit).
o Ready for tile – The ready for tile pans can be made in any shape or size with customized drain locations. Their main drawback is the maintenance of grout joints around small mosaic tiles and the need to create a curved finishing “cap” (which is usually custom made from solid surface or granite) to finish the top of the shower’s curved curb.
o Solid surface – Solid surface has the advantages of being made in any size or shape, it’s available in over 60 different colors with any drain location, and is low maintenance and grout free. The disadvantage is the initial purchase price of the solid surface base is generally most expensive.
• Step 3 – Integrate your glass block wall with your base – The selection of the glass block wall design is actually joined at the hip with step 2 (choosing your shower pan). For most alcove showers it is recommended to use the thinner (3 1/8” thick) series blocks to maximize the available showering space. The amount and number of the curved block will vary depending on the shower’s depth (the goal is to use the curved blocks to keep the water in and provide style but not make the shower too small by curving the wall in too much). For a 32” to 37” depth one pre-curved glass block (it is called a “radial” block in the thinner series) is recommended. For 38” or deeper spaces two curved blocks can be used. These blocks are available in either a “wave” (obscure) or a “clear” (see-through) patterns. To improve installation quality and save labor costs the walls can be premade to the exact specifications of the bases and are available as a glass block shower kit. For some additional fun and interest include some colored, frosted, etched or even blocks with decorative tiles or metals adhered to the surface.
• Step 4 – Select grout free shower wall panels or tile for the interior surround walls – If your goal is a low maintenance showering environment consider using PVC backed composite faux stone, high gloss acrylic or solid surface wall panels. If you like the traditional look of tile what’s trending now is large format tiles – they look contemporary, minimize grout joints and make a smaller space look larger.
• Step 5 – Accessorize for a spa experience – The right accessories, strategically located, can turn an ordinary shower into a spa-like experience. Consider either a corner seat or a fold down seat for relaxing comfort. Use recessed niches for soap and shampoo to save space and keep slippery items off the bottom of the shower pan.
Would you like design or product assistance to convert a tub into a glass block shower please comment or call the numbers below.
Call Innovate Building Solutions on a nationwide basis (877-668-5888) or for a local project their divisions including Columbus Glass Block (614-252-5888), Cleveland Glass Block (216-531-6363), West Side Glass Block (216-398-1020) or Mid America Glass Block in Akron (330-633-2900).
Tags: convert tub to glass block shower, custom base, custom pan, glass block kit, glass block shower, glass block shower base, glass block shower ideas, glass block shower kit, glass block shower pan, glass block showers, grout free wall panels, solid surface wall panels, tub to shower, tub to shower conversion
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